Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development says the K61 billion loan secured from the World Bank to finance Agricultural Commercialisation (Agcom) will help to commercialise the sector.
Speaking last Thursday in Salima on the sidelines of a stakeholders sensitisation meeting, the ministry’s director of planning and development Alex Namaona said the five-year Agcom is backbone for wealth creation.
He said: “Agcom is a project which is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism through independent project implementation unit seeking to increase commercialisation of agriculture value chain products, including crops, livestock and fisheries for domestic and export market.”
Namaona said Agcom will target small-scale and emerging poor farmers, who cultivate more than eight hectares and farmer organisations with the capacity to produce beyond subsistence.
“The project will also work with agri-products buyers, processors, retailers, exporters and aggregators and financial institutions lending to the agricultural sector,” he said.
Agcom national coordinator Ted Nankhumwa said the project will increase agriculture productivity.
“The project is a flagship of Malawi Government to graduate farmers from subsistence farming. We will identify small-scale and medium-scale farmers who will be required to submit proposals,” he said.
Nankhumwa said the project is reaching out to all interested farm groups nationwide who submitted proposals and that no allocation is provided to a particular district.
“The districts will benefit according to the proposals that they send to us, and we expect trade officers and other officials in the district that work with these groups to be proactive to ensure that the cooperatives are coming forth with proposals.
“The aim is to build 300 alliances which translate to 650 000 households that will benefit and graduate from subsistence farming,” he said.
Successful cooperatives will be given matching grants to buy capital equipment and technical support to link them to markets.
A representative of cooperatives, Clement Mpoto from Kaso Cooperative in Mvera, Dowa, said the project is good, but farmers need to be well sensitised to project proposal writing and marketing of goods.
“This project will turn subsistence farmers into millionaires in a short timeo,” said Mpoto.
According to official documents on the access to Agcom, farmers are required to be organised in groups and in turn a productive alliance will respond to the call of proposal.